Car Auto Accident Lawsuit
Common Personal injury Lawsuit Series
Car Auto Accident Lawsuit
On June 22, 2013, the family of a 22-year-old Chicago man killed in a road accident won compensation worth $3.75 million following the settlement of a car accident injury lawsuit filed against ATS Specialized Inc. A vehicle of the trucking company hit the victim’s car on Interstate 57 near Ludlow from behind in November 2012, leading to his death. The police found that driver was driving at a dangerous speed at the time of accident and failed to slow down despite hitting the victim’s car. Two days prior to this accident, another car accident injury lawsuit resulted in $1.29 million compensation to a Hollywood woman. In May 2013, a Philadelphia jury awarded $19.1 million to a Bensalem man, who lost his leg in a two-car collision in 2009.
Over a million car accident injury lawsuits are filed in the United States each year. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, car accidents in the United States lead to at least 30,000 deaths and 3 million injuries, ranging from minor to serious ones, causing permanent disability every year. The national economy loses more than $230 billion annually following damages caused by car accidents. While celebrities, sports persons, doctors, and talented young men have lost their lives, many others had to suffer for life following brain damage, spinal cord injury, and loss of limb caused by road accidents. No doubt death and disabilities are irreparable, but victims or their families have the option to recover financial and nonfinancial damages and seek punitive damages from erring drivers responsible for accidents and accused of showing disregard to the safety of others on the road.
U.S. Car Accident Injury Lawsuit: Annual Auto Accident Statistics
- About 6 million car accidents reported every year with over 30,000 deaths and 2.5 million injuries. Almost 90 people die every day because of car accidents. Experts are of the view that a majority of non-fatal car accidents every year go unreported.
- One car accident injury happens in 14 seconds.
- About one-fourth of total car accident fatalities include young people aged between 15 and 20 years.
- Of all car accidents leading to fatalities, 40% are perpetrated by alcohol-impaired drivers while speed accounts for 30% of them.
- Reckless driving is responsible for 33% car accidents leading to fatalities each year.
- At least one in five car accidents are due to driver distraction, including use of phone while driving or failure to obey traffic signals.
- Intersection crashes are most common car accidents in both fatal and non-fatal categories.
- Texas, California, and Florida witness the highest number of car accidents in the United States. In the recent years, the number of car accidents and consequent fatalities have gone up in Connecticut, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Indiana, and Ohio.
Car Accident Injury Lawsuit: Common Causes of Accident
The following are the most common causes of accidents as cited in the car accident injury lawsuits filed in various U.S. courts and reported by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
- Single car accidents caused by driver error
- Front and rear-end collisions between two cars
- High speed and driving under influence of alcohol
- Intersection accidents
- Violation of traffic signal, lane rules, and improper overtake
- Driver distraction
- Defective vehicle
Car Accident Injury Lawsuit: Injuries or Damages Admissible
Any car driver, passenger, cyclist, motorcyclist, or pedestrian, subject to injuries as mentioned below, is legally empowered to seek compensation from the erring driver by filing a car accident injury lawsuit.
- Death due to car accident
- Permanent or temporary disability
- Loss of limb or internal injuries
- Physical injuries leading to hospitalization
- Whiplash injuries
- Spinal cord injury
- Injury to brain and neck
- Fracture, pain, disfigurement, or burn injuries
- Damage to car or property
Car Accident Injury Lawsuit Grounds for Seeking Damages
The U.S. law allows for filing of car accident injury lawsuits under various provisions. Product liability lawsuits can be initiated against a car manufacturer if vehicle design or manufacturing defect leads to the accident. Similarly, personal injury lawsuits can be filed by passenger, pedestrian, or other riders on the road against the driver responsible for causing injury seeking compensation for various types of damages. In case of accidents involving two or more cars, the tort law allows victims to sue the erring driver for financial, non financial, and punitive damages.
The following are key points highlighting the grounds on which one can seek damages from the erring driver.
- Driver Error A driver is liable to compensate people injured in a car accident caused due to his negligent driving. Car accident injury lawsuits filed in such cases highlight distraction, inattention, or driver errors, such as disregard for traffic rules, improper lane change, wrong intersection crossing, and unsafe passing. Driving error is the subject of maximum number of car accident compensation claims.
- Speeding Speed is the single most reason for the maximum number of accidents at intersections. If anyone is injured in a car accident caused by a vehicle driven at more than the speed specified at the spot, the driver is liable to be sued through personal injury lawsuits.
- DUI Accidents An accident caused by driving under alcohol or drug influence makes the driver both punishable and liable for personal injury lawsuits.
- Reckless Driving A driver under the law is required to ensure safety of others using the road. Any violation of it makes him liable to pay compensation and be punished.
- Road Rage Personal injury lawsuits seeking compensation for injury and damages can also be initiated for road rage committed by car drivers.
- Poor Conditions Car accidents caused by poorly maintained roads, road with design flaws, barriers, or highways not driver friendly can lead to car accident injury lawsuits against agencies responsible for constructing or maintaining roads, including state and municipal authorities.
- Vehicle Defect Often manufacturing or design defects in cars cause accidents, resulting in injury to driver or passengers. Such victims can file car accident lawsuits citing product liability against manufacturers. Toyota paid $10 million in December 2010 to settle such a claim following accelerator design defect in a SUV made by it.
Car Accident Injury Lawsuit Types of Compensation
The law empowers car accident victims to seek various types of compensation for their injuries and damages. These include:
- Financial Damage Claims: You can claim financial damages to recover your expenses and loss of money following a car accident. Medication costs for present and future, hospital bills, loss of wage, and any type of financial distress caused by the accident are covered under this category of compensation.
- Non-Financial Damage Claims: It covers financial claims for non-financial losses, such as emotional distress, loss of family life, pain, and suffering.
- Disability Damage Claim: If you are left disabled, permanently or temporarily, due to the accident, you are entitled to clam compensation for the same. It usually covers future medical costs and loss of employment.
- Punitive Damage Claim: Purely decided by the court, this kind of compensation claim is to punish the accused and prevent him from committing the same mistake again. This acts as deterrence while punishing the erring drivers or agencies for their fault.
- Property Damage Claim: If you have lost any movable or immovable property or incurred repairing costs because of the car accident, you can claim the same from the erring driver.
Car Accident Injury Lawsuit Compensation Claim Process
One can claim car accident compensation in any of the three ways.
- Seek compensation from the insurance provider of his own
- Seek compensation from the insurance provider of the at-fault driver
- Seek comprehensive compensation by filing car accident injury lawsuit
Contact an expert car accident lawyer and consult with him. Ask him the details of claims you can make and authorize the attorney to collects medical reports, accident information, car or property repair estimates, estimate damages and losses on your behalf. Your lawyer prepares n estimate of all damages to be claimed and notifies the defendant about the potential claim and his liability and seeks compensation based on investigations and assessment.
The car accident lawyer can file a no-fault insurance claim, if allowed, or contact the erring driver or his insurer. If the defendant refuses to settle the case, you have the option to file a civil personal injury lawsuit seeking compensation in the court.
Car Accident Injury Lawsuit The Litigation
- Filing: Your car accident lawyer files a car crash lawsuit your behalf. It contains two parts, summons, a notice to the defendant, and complaint, a note on details of accident and injuries caused by it.
- Mediation: The court allows both parties to explore options for a mutually agreed settlement. Trained mediators or third party lawyers can be involved in the process. Car accident lawyers representing both parties hold discussions about settlement possibilities.
- Discovery: During this phase, your car accident attorney provides his defense counterpart a record of details called “Bill of Particulars,” which includes extensive findings on the accident and damage claims.
- Filing for Judicial Intervention: Your car accident lawyer files for judicial intervention or hearing of the case. The judge sets the dates for trial, examination before trial, disposition after the defense lawyer submits his answers to the court.
- Examination Before Trial: The defense can cross examine the plaintiff.
- Summary Judgment: Either the plaintiff or the defendant can ask the court to decide the case in their favor based on the merit of their documents. The final decision rests on the judge whether the case is fit to be presented before the jury.
- Trial: The court hears arguments in the presence of the jury and the compensation is awarded based on facts and legal requirements.
- Settlement: Almost 90 percent of car accident injury lawsuits are settled out of court due to prohibitive costs and long duration of legal process involved. Reputation and expertise of your car accident lawyer plays an important role in ensuring a good settlement.
Car Accident Injury Lawsuit Statutory Regulations
- Comparative Fault Principle: A number of states allow awards in car accident injury lawsuits based on the proportion of fault. California, Florida, New York and 10 other states follow the pure comparative principle where one is awarded damages proportionate to his fault. If the fault is 90 percent, the plaintiff gets only 10 percent of total compensation awarded. In other states, the modified comparative fault principle mandates compensation to a plaintiff only if his fault is less than 50 percent.
- Statute of Limitations: A car accident injury lawsuit must be initiated within a certain time frame. There are different time limits for compensation claim for personal injury and property damaged. Each state has its own statute of limitations. For example, in Florida, it is four years for both personal injury and property damaged. In California, a car accident lawsuit must be filed within two years of personal injury and three years of property damaged. In Iowa, it is two and five years, respectively. There are concessions for minors in certain states.
- Insurance Claim: Twelve U.S. states follow “no-fault” insurance claim system that allows people injured in accidents to claim compensation to a certain extent for bodily injury from their own insurer. Other states follow an “at-fault” principle where the erring driver or his insurer is liable to pay compensation. In New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Kentucky, there is an option to choose between the two.
- Small Court Claims: Car accident injury lawsuits claiming below a fixed limit in every state is required to be filed in state small claims courts. The limit is set at $2,500 in Arizona and Kentucky to as high as $15,000 in Delaware and Georgia.
- Car Accident Injury Lawsuit Against government agencies follows a different statute of limitations varying between 90 and 180 days.
Car Accident Injury Lawsuit Insurance Requirements
Different states have set different insurance coverage limitations for motorists. All drivers are required to carry three types of insurances – coverage for bodily injury of one person, coverage for injury per accident, and coverage for property damaged per accident. It is compulsory in all states except Mississippi, Virginia, and New Hampshire. In North Carolina and Texas, the insurance coverage is as high as $30,000 person injury liability coverage, $60,000 per accident coverage, and $25,000 per accident property damage coverage. In New Jersey and Pennsylvania, it is as low as $15,000, $30,000, and $5,000 respectively.